Trump Set to Impose More Tariffs on China


Trump Set to Impose More Tariffs on China

Bags of soybeans in a grain wholesale market in Beijing. Soybean prices have plummeted in recent months after President Trump announced tariffs on Chinese goods.CreditCreditWu Hong/EPA, via Shutterstock

President Trump is expected to announce that the United States is moving ahead with tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, saying on Monday that a trade announcement would be coming after the close of American financial markets.

The new round of tariffs would be on top of those already imposed on $50 billion worth of Chinese products earlier this year, meaning nearly half of all Chinese imports into the United States will soon be taxed. The move is aimed at pressuring China to change trade practices that Mr. Trump says are hurting American businesses. But, unlike the first round of tariffs, which were aimed largely at industrial products, these could ultimately hurt American customers and companies by raising prices on electronics, food, tools and housewares, just ahead of the holiday shopping season.

“It will be a lot of money coming into the coffers of the United States of America. A lot of money coming in, but you’ll be seeing what we’re doing right after close of business today,” Mr. Trump said during remarks at the White House on Monday. He added that the United States cannot tolerate the trade gap between what it exports to China and what it imports from that country.

“We can’t do that anymore,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s decision is a significant escalation of an already serious trade dispute between the United States and China — one with seemingly no end in sight. After months of failed trade talks, top officials from China and the United States were tentatively scheduled to talk later this month in Washington. But it is unclear whether Beijing will agree to come to Washington with the new tariffs set to go into effect.

“We are open to talk if there are serious talks,” Larry Kudlow, who chairs the National Economic Council, said in an interview on Monday. “I don’t want to be any more detailed than that.”

Yang Weimin, the senior deputy to Vice Premier Liu He until his retirement in late spring and now the deputy director for economic affairs at the Communist Party’s top advisory body, said at the China Development Forum in Beijing on Sunday that China would not negotiate while under pressure.

On Monday, Mr. Trump boasted about the power of taxing imports on Monday morning and warned that countries that do not agree to his trade demands will be “tariffed,” escalating tensions as crucial negotiations loom with China and Canada.

In a pair of Twitter posts, Mr. Trump continued to make the case that tariffs largely harm the countries that are taxed, saying the impact on the American economy has been “almost unnoticeable.” His comments are likely to further rattle American businesses, which have pleaded with the administration to abandon the tariffs and warned they will raise prices, cost jobs and hurt the United States economy.

Mr. Kudlow said at an Economic Club of New York event on Monday that, while he could not get into specific numbers, Mr. Trump had requested those tariffs and “my guess is announcements will be coming soon.”

In a pair of tweets, Mr. Trump continued to make the case that tariffs largely harm the countries that are taxed, saying the impact on the American economy has been “almost unnoticeable.”CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

He added that the administration is open to discussions with China if they are willing to have “substantive” talks.

“We are ready to negotiate and talk to China any time they are ready for serious and substantive negotiations,” Mr. Kudlow said. “We are ready to have that discussion anytime, as long as it’s going to be a serious discussion.”

Mr. Trump has threatened to tax all Chinese goods if Beijing does not change its trade practices and has already levied tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from other countries, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

The president tweeted that his steel tariffs have given “new life” to the domestic steel industry, and that price increases from those and other tariffs have barely been felt in the American economy.

Neither claim is supported by economic data. Steel prices are up more than 10 percent since February, the month before Mr. Trump announced his long-awaited tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, from a wide swath of trading partners. Prices on washing machines jumped 20 percent in the months following Mr. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on imported washers.

Since Mr. Trump announced his steel and aluminum tariffs, employment in primary metals manufacturing — which includes those industries — has increased by less than 1,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department.

Still, Mr. Trump said tariffs had put the United States “in a strong bargaining position,” alluding to upcoming talks with Canada in an attempt to complete a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and to a scheduled-but-tenuous round of talks with China next week.

Mr. Trump has already imposed tariffs on $50 billion of imports from China, on products designed to minimize price pain for American consumers, including chemicals, machinery and other industrial components.

The total wave of tariffs thus far has not been large enough to meaningfully affect consumer prices broadly across the economy — only narrowly, for certain products. Economists warn that the effects could grow noticeably larger if Mr. Trump follows through with his $200 billion round of Chinese tariffs, and particularly if he makes good on his threat earlier this month to subject nearly all Chinese imports to tariffs.

Asked about Mr. Trump’s tweets in the morning, regarding the lack of price impacts across the economy from tariffs, Mr. Kudlow stuck with the president. “With respect to the impact of tariffs, we’ll see,” he said. “We’re following it. We don’t see any problems so far.”

“I don’t see any reason to believe at the present time that the president’s trade reforms are going to damage the economy.”

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